Zibby Owens: Welcome, Hope. Thank you so much for coming on “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books” to discuss The AfterGrief, which I’m trying to show here, Finding Your Way Along the Long Arc of Loss. It’s such a pleasure to be with you today.

Hope Edelman: Thank you so much, Zibby.

Zibby: Would you mind please telling listeners what your latest book is about and what inspired you to write it?

Hope: My first book and several of my books were about early mother loss. I wrote a book about the long-term effects of losing a mom when you’re a child, teenager, or young adult because that was my story. I was seventeen years old when my mother died of breast cancer. There were no books for girls like me or adults like me who had lost a mom when she was younger. Then over the years, I started living more into my own experience. I discovered that even decades later this early loss was still coming up for me in new and different ways, some that I could anticipate or expect and others that just blindsided me. At that point, I knew lots of women in the Motherless Daughters community. I’d met a number of their brothers. I had a lot of friends who had lost fathers or siblings. They were telling the same story that the experience of grief was much more protracted and, in fact, extended over a lifetime in some ways.

That’s how The AfterGrief came out. That’s what I’m calling the period that comes after that acute phase of grief when we’re really wondering how we’re going to make it through every day without this person in our life. Then slowly, slowly, the intense pain starts to recede. We enter this next phase where we’re adjusting and adapting to the loss constantly over time. That’s what I call the aftergrief. I interviewed eighty-one people who had lost parents, siblings, close friends, or romantic partners, most of them before the age of thirty, and then asked them how that kept showing up for them ten, twenty, thirty years later. In my case, thirty-nine years since my mother and sixteen years since my father died. They’re still a big part of my life. I think of them all the time. I miss them from time to time, sometimes very painfully still.

Zibby: It doesn’t matter how much time has gone by. If you’re missing something that you perceive to be so central to you, it never really goes away. Does it? It doesn’t really ever disappear.

Hope: I don’t think so. That’s why I think that expecting things to last a certain amount of time or using measurements of time often backfires on us. I’m frequently asked, how long before I move from the acute phase of grief into the aftergrief? People want to have an idea on what calendar date they’re going to cross the threshold. I can’t answer that question for anybody. It’s so individual. For some people, three months. For some people, six. For some people, two years. It depends on so many factors. I think once we release ourself from this idea that there’s going to be an end point on the calendar and learn how to just move with the ebbs and the flows and think in terms of intensity and duration rather than an end point, it’s a much kinder and gentler way to move forward without someone important in our life.

Zibby: You point out so aptly that most employers give people maybe no time, maybe two weeks. You think you’re supposed to be back on your feet. Of course, that’s impossible. Two weeks is nothing. You can barely put your shoes on two weeks later.

Hope: Oh, Zibby, the average is three days of paid leave.

Zibby: Three days, oh, my gosh.

Hope: That’s the average for the American worker, three days of bereavement leave. Then you need to take personal days, sick days, or if you have mental health days, maybe, at your company, or you have to start going into unpaid time off in order to sufficiently mourn the person who died. In many cultures, three days isn’t even enough time to have the funeral because there are preparations and there are rituals that you need to go through. People are going into unpaid time off just in order to mourn their dead, which I think actually is a tragedy in this culture.

Zibby: Not to mention the fact that you’re so cognitively impaired when you are in the intense beginnings of grief, for the most part. The idea that you have to go through all that sludge and then perform at work as if you were at the top of your game is close to impossible. It’s not even good practice for the companies to have employees who are a fraction of themselves. If you just gave them a little bit more time, it might help. Anyway, I don’t know why I’ve even gotten into this.

Hope: For some people, work is a really welcome distraction because they can compartmentalize really well. Then they feel like, okay, I can just leave the intense distress over here. I can go to work and get some relief and then come back. Not everybody can do that. Those who can’t, I think, shouldn’t be expected to.

Zibby: You’re right. You’re absolutely right. Work can be a total refuge. You had so many passages that I found so interesting. You wrote, “A terrible disconnect exists between what the average person thinks grief should look and feel like — typically, a series of progressive, time-limited stages that end in a state of closure — and how grief, that artful dodger, actually behaves. This means a whole lot of people getting stuck in the gap between what they’ve been told to expect after someone dies and what they actually encounter when it happens.” I loved your expression the artful dodger so much that I wrote it here in blue Sharpie because it’s such a good description. It’s something that comes in and out and creeps. It’s that creeping feeling. You don’t know where it’s going. It’s so sneaky, almost.

Hope: Right. I’m also a child of the seventies. I grew up on Oliver. Remember the Artful Dodger?

Zibby: Yeah, me too. I knew where it came from.

Hope: That little boy with the black hair dancing in the streets of London.

Zibby: I’m pretty sure my brother was the Artful Dodger in that play. Now I might be wrong, so forget it. You also wrote that “Mourners who are able to make meaning of their experiences exhibit lower levels of complicated grief and better mental and physical health later on. In fact, making meaning after a trauma is the most powerful predictor of good long-term outcome among adults.” I wanted you to discuss this notion of complicated grief versus whatever the opposite is, regular grief.

Hope: Complicated grief is a term that’s used to describe about fifteen percent of mourners who can’t seem to get out of that acute phase of grief. It’s like the grief channel gets stuck on high or it gets stuck twenty-four/seven. They’re not able to compartmentalize and go to work and come back. They’re at a high level of distress and can’t turn the nob down. It’s now believed that those are typically people who have preexisting susceptibility to anxiety or depression. That gets really amped up when somebody they love dies. It is about fifteen percent of the population. The rest of us, over time, figure out how to adapt on our own. I think there are still mourners’ needs. I would even create the mourners’ bill of rights, things that we really need and deserve in order to adapt well on our own. Not everybody needs therapy. Not everybody is a talker and needs to talk it out. I think we all need some form of self-expression. We all need some sense of safety and security in order to grieve, which is why some people experience postponed or delayed grief. Complicated grief is a known category within the bereavement field. It affects about fifteen percent of people. They really do need some professional assistance in order to work through whatever trauma they may have that’s lingering or feelings of remorse or guilt or anxiety or depression that needs to be addressed concurrently with their bereavement needs.

Zibby: I’m actually surprised. I felt like the statistics on what percent of the population has anxiety or depression would make me think that far more than fifteen percent would have complicated grief. I don’t know what the rates are off the top of my head.

Hope: They say complicated grief. That’s a term in the bereavement world to explain the people who are really at the highest level of distress and can’t get out of it on their own, but I think everyone’s grief is complicated. You had a difficult relationship with that person. It can be complicated because you have children to take of and you need to attend to their needs over losing a grandparent, for example, or a mom or a dad, and don’t have time to attend to your own. Those are complications that can arise with grief. A number of people who have anxiety and depression can manage it on their own or are already managing it when grief comes. This fifteen percent, typically, it’s like the volume knob gets turned all the way up, like I said, and they’re not able to turn it down on their own or with the assistance of the people they already have on their team.

Zibby: You mentioned how much therapy and talking can help, but that obviously some people are not talkers. What if you have someone who ends up in the fifteen percent who doesn’t find talking helpful? How do you help that person if therapy doesn’t help?

Hope: I recommend that anyone in the fifteen percent work with a bereavement professional or especially a trauma-informed bereavement professional if the loss was due to a traumatic form of death like a suicide or a homicide or an accident that was disfiguring. Sometimes really watching someone suffer for a long period of time is traumatic for us. There’s something called shock trauma which is when something happens very suddenly and unexpectedly. There’s also a category called strain trauma which is taking care of someone or watching someone who’s ill deteriorate over a long period of time. I would recommend almost anyone in the fifteen percent who feels like they might not be able to — they can decide, is that for six weeks they’re too sad to get out of bed? That’s serious. Is it six months later they still can’t concentrate at work because they’re still having images or flashbacks about how the loved one died? Those might be examples of complicated grief. I think that everyone needs a form of self-expression. It doesn’t have to be talking. Some of us are talkers and we don’t have anyone who will listen. People shut us down. They don’t want to hear. Especially months later, they feel like we should be over it, which is why the introduction to the book is called Getting Over Getting Over It. I think we just have to get past this idea as a culture that grief is something we get over. Forms of artistic expression or physical activities are also terrific ways to externalize our feelings, whether we’re doing it through cardio or we’re doing it through dance or writing. Writing and journaling is known to be a really excellent way of helping people release and process the emotions that come with grief.

Zibby: I think reading too. I know it’s more of a receptive type of act versus productive. I think taking in other people’s stories and having that in your head make sense with your own can help.

Hope: I think so. I think that’s why certain book clubs can be really helpful if people are really responding to the material or reading book like The AfterGrief and then talking about it with somebody. That’s bibliotherapy and a form of talk therapy. You just need a compassionate other that you can confide in. It’s really important, really, really important. All the research shows that — this was one of the most fascinating things I learned when I wrote this book. It was a subset of social psychology. It’s also a form of psychology called constructivist psychology. It’s about how we make sense of the world around us. This is how we make meaning. We do it by creating a story that tells what happened and that makes sense to us. Sometimes that’s hard when someone dies if we don’t know all the facts or we don’t really understand what happened or why or we weren’t there to witness it and we have to piece it together from other people’s accounts. That can take a while.

We need to create a story that makes sense to us emotionally and cognitively. There’s something called the story development phase after a death where the survivors piece together the story to make sense of it. Oftentimes we find that even within a family, members don’t have the same story to explain what happened. They may make a different meaning out of the loss as a result. We see that a lot when a parent dies. Siblings have different stories about what happened and what it meant to them and what it means to the family as a whole. After you create that story, you really need to be able to tell it in some way, whether it’s writing it out as a memoir or putting it in your journal or talking to a friend or talking about it in therapy. The confiding part of story development is extremely important, psychologists have found, for people’s adjustment over time. You have to be able to share that story in some way, whether it’s with one person or the public at large.

Zibby: Maybe this is why I post on Instagram all the time when I’m going through grief. I’m so mortified by it now. That’s how I process everything. I know I’m not alone in that.

Hope: Social media gives us an opportunity to confide. Even if we’re doing it with a long list of strangers, we are still putting it out there in the world in some way and getting some feedback.

Zibby: I was also so interested in your book that you went back to the women who you had interviewed years and years ago for your Motherless Daughters first book. I loved the image of you rooting through files and being like, who can I google and find information about at this point? You reunited with, I think you said something like twenty or fourteen or something like that of the original crew and then interviewed them along with other people. What were your main findings?

Hope: That was something else. I felt like the Edleman PI firm for a while trying to track down these women. It had been twenty-seven years since I had first interviewed them for Motherless Daughters. A lot of their last names had changed. They had gotten married or they’d gotten divorced. A few of them had passed away. Some of them, I just couldn’t locate. It wasn’t really that sophisticated, to be honest. My private investigating firm was not really that high level. It was mostly Google and Whitepages and Facebook and LinkedIn. A couple of the women I had kept in touch with over the years. I was really young. I was twenty-eight years old living in New York. This was before the internet. I had found these people by putting an ad in the back of The Village Voice or word of mouth. I traveled to a couple other cities. These women had now dispersed all over the world twenty-seven years later. I had sat down with them one on one and taped the interviews. Some of the interviews went on for two, three, four hours, really extensive, in-depth interviews. Then I had to use portions of it in the book and kept in touch with some of them after the book came out. They were all pseudonyms in the book.

I couldn’t not find, when I was writing The AfterGrief, any studies that had tracked people over decades also to see how their stories had changed and evolved. When I say we make a story of the loss to make sense of it, that story, it’s always in motion. It’s always in a state of evolution. We’re going to reach a point in our development later when we’re going to look back at those same set of facts and we really see them differently. New information might come in. We might meet someone that tells us something about our loved one that we didn’t know that maybe changes our perspective a bit. I was really interested. How do stories change over time, stories of loss? There weren’t any studies. No studies tracked people longer than about seven years at the most. That’s because it’s expensive to have a study that lasts that long. It’s hard to keep participants in it for that long. There are all kinds of scientific reasons why those studies would be difficult to maintain. I couldn’t find anything that tracked people over decades. Then I remembered, oh, I have all these transcripts of interviews and tapes from these interviews that I did with the original Motherless Daughters. There were ninety-four of them. I managed to find about eighteen without doing too much work, a couple days up to weeks of searching for them. I located eighteen of them and was able to reach them through emails or through LinkedIn or through Facebook. I think seventeen of them agreed to be reinterviewed.

I reconnected with a number of them in person because they still lived in New York. I flew out to New York. I sat down with them again twenty-seven, twenty-eight years later, and the rest of them by Skype or FaceTime, always seeing each other. It was extraordinary. It was extraordinary to see each other again after all this time. I learned that their stories were very dynamic. Obviously, they changed a lot. Most of these women had been in their twenties and thirties when I first spoke with them. Now they had had very rich and full lives. They’d been married. Some of them had been divorced. Some of them had children or they were single moms. A number of them had lost their fathers as well by that point or had other major losses in their lives. I said, just as I had the first time, “I’m just going to ask you to tell me your story of mother loss. Start wherever you’d like. Tell me the story.” The second time, I said, “As if we’ve never talked before. I want to see what your story looks like now or sounds like now.” I asked the same kinds of questions I had the first time, but not leading questions. I was just asking them to fill in some part of it that I thought could be flushed out more. Then we sat down together or separately but together and looked at the original transcript and looked at the one that came several decades later.

It was really fascinating to see which parts of the story that had been so important to them when they were younger didn’t even show up on the later version and which parts did show up almost verbatim because it had been important parts that they’d been telling over the years, so they were telling it exactly the same way. What really struck me, Zibby, was how many of them talked about that first interview as a watershed moment in their story. I think it was, for many of them, the first time they had been able to confide in someone. They had been carrying a story for all these years. People had told them, you should be over it by now. It’s in the past. Don’t wallow. Don’t dwell. Family members maybe didn’t want them to talk about it or had silenced them, in some cases very deliberately. It was the first time that someone said, I want to hear your story, and I want to hear all of it. I’m going to give you hours to tell it. Quite a few of them said, that interview was a real turning point for me. It was when I feel like my healing really advanced or, in some cases, really began because somebody wanted to hear it. I didn’t have to carry it alone anymore.

Zibby: Wow. That must have made you feel really good.

Hope: It did, but all those interviews helped me as much as they helped them because I was on the same journey that they were. I was as thankful to all of them as they were to me. Those original interviews were really more of a conversation than a Q&A.

Zibby: If there is somebody who has recently lost a mother, or say in the last five years, knowing what you have researched about the aftergrief, what can they expect in twenty-some-odd years?

Hope: You can expect that there will be certain moments when that loss feels almost fresh and new and painful again. That’s because they might be experiencing it in a new way. There’s a category of grief that I identified in this book that I call new old grief. That’s when we experience an old loss in a new way. We can’t grieve the loss of the person in this capacity until we get there. For example, I was seventeen when my mom died. I was thirty-three when my first daughter was born. There was absolutely no way I could grieve my mother’s absence as a grandmother or as a resource to me as a new mom when I was seventeen. I couldn’t even have those emotions when I was pregnant with my daughter. Although, I felt them coming. I really could only miss her that way and understand what she had lost when my daughter was there in my arms, healthy. It was sixteen years after my mom had died. Even after all the work I’d done, you’d think that I, more than anyone, wrote this book, have been traveling the world talking about mother loss, that I would have a handle on this. It turned out that, no, I was no different from anybody else. I was still mourning the loss of my mom as a new mom in a way that I couldn’t before.

Then another big one, and this is a big transition for women too, is when you reach and pass the age your mother was when she was died. If your mom died young, most of us are going to do that. I’ve worked with women. I’m also a grief and loss coach. I’ve worked with clients whose moms died when they were twenty-nine, thirty-five. My mom was forty-two. This is young. Forty-two was a really wonky year for me. I was like, wow, I’m as old as my mom was. When I was seventeen, she seemed so old. Forty-two is not very old. Then I turned forty-three. That was like, whoa, I’m older than my mom got to be. My inner relationship with her and my inner representation of her really needed to shift, especially as I got even older and then I’m looking back at her. I think women who have lost their moms just a few years ago can be aware that that’s ahead. I’m creating resources, and there are resources that exist. I’m actually working with people now who help create rituals to offer free templates for a way to honor reaching your mom’s age and passing it and also for acknowledging death anniversaries every year, particularly significant ones like the first, the tenth, the twentieth, almost like wedding anniversaries.

We have ways to acknowledge wedding anniversaries, like a twenty-fifth wedding anniversary, but we don’t have any way to acknowledge, wow, my dad or my mom has been gone for twenty years. That’s a long time. I want to do something. I don’t know what. There’s nothing in the culture that we can do. If you have a culture within American culture, there may be some kind of ritual that your family might perform like a Day of the Dead celebration or ceremony. If you’re Jewish, you can light a candle. Once we’re done with a funeral in American culture, there really isn’t a whole lot of ritual for us to connect with, to maintain those connections, and to bind the past, the present, and the future for a sense of continuity and allow that person to walk forward with us in a meaningful way. I know there are a number of initiatives happening now, especially in the COVID era, to help people through these transitions. My hope is that they will extend to the larger culture over time.

Zibby: I hope so. I feel like there’s such a lack. You’re so right. Everybody at some point or another — I guess maybe not every single person. Almost every single person goes through losing somebody at some point in their lives. Yet there’s not that much. There are experts like you. There are obviously books on grieving and things like that, but that’s not enough. Your message, your ability to scale it, is so important, and having things be a part of life as opposed to — we all know, okay, we go to a memorial service. Then what? There should be a hundred percent more goalposts and ways that the community can help you too. I’m not sure if I mentioned in an email, but we lost my mother-in-law and grandmother-in-law both within six weeks this summer. I have my husband, who’s thirty-eight, and my sister-in-law, who’s thirty-three, they’ve been living with the kids and me this whole time. We’ve been going through this process together. Especially in COVID times, there’s no community that you can be a part of. It’s all virtual. Maybe a cousin will check in on text, but it’s not like what you had before. There are so many, many, many people who are going through this right now, not just for COVID, but in so many ways. What would you say to that, not my story itself, but the probably millions of people who can’t be with somebody who’s grieving or feels they’re doing it more or less alone?

Hope: I know. This is so important right now. It’s really important. A hundred and twenty years ago, grieving was a social phenomenon. People came together. The village gathered to mourn the passing of one of their own. Our facsimile of that now that has survived 120 years of Western culture is the funeral and the eulogy and the memorial service and, in some cases, the celebration of life. It doesn’t extend much beyond the event itself, but it’s something because it brings people together. They sit and they listen to stories. They share stories. They even laugh about warm and funny memories that they can share. It’s much harder to do that now. I think the Zoom funerals and Zoom memorials don’t really fulfill the need that especially the mourners have for human companionship and human touch. That said, they do offer an opportunity for people who can’t physically get to a funeral to still be part of the village, people who can’t afford to fly on short notice or can’t leave children or can’t leave work and otherwise would not be able to take part in the ritual. My hope is that we get back to in-person gatherings and memorials as soon as we can, as soon as it’s safe, but that we also livestream them so that the people who can’t make it can still be part of that village, and the village is more expansive. Our villages now are dispersed. They’re not all in the same geographic perimeter. Our villages are spread out all over the world in some cases. We want to find a way to bring them together.

People have asked me or said, we’ve had to postpone the funeral or memorial for our loved one who died, and not just to COVID. People are dying of all other causes as well in the past nine months. They’ve said to me, what do you think? It may be another year before we can do it. I said, doesn’t matter. Where’s the law that says the celebration of life has to occur within the first week or two after a death, or the first month? There really is no written guideline or mandate that says we have to do it within a certain period of time. Again, I think we have let go of our idea of the calendar structure and say, we’ll do it when we can. It’s really important. I say, if you can’t do it for another two years, people are still going to remember your loved one. They’re still going to have stories of the person who died. We’re going to find out what it means to us to come together a year or two later instead of doing it right after. We might find, in some ways, that it’s actually richer and more meaningful. I don’t know because we haven’t tried it yet. I think it’s really important that we do it no matter how long we have to wait.

Zibby: It would be nice if each year on the anniversary or the birthday or the death or something that there was an event or something that marked it, not just for you. I think it’s great, all you’re advocating for and all the rest. Tell me a little more about your work as an author on top of a researcher and coach and grief counselor. Now you’re doing all these live seminars. I saw on Instagram you have a new six-week course or something coming up. Tell me a little bit about that and then also when it is you managed to fit all of this into your life.

Hope: I do offer online courses and online support groups now. This is kind of an offshoot of the retreats that I was leading in person. Claire Bidwell Smith, author, therapist, friend of yours, and I in 2016 started offering live retreats for motherless daughters who really wanted to meet other women who could understand their experiences as adults. We started in Ojai, California, with twenty-three women. That grew into a whole company that I’m now moving forward. Thirteen retreats have been done, one of them virtually, twelve of them in person. We do ones for women who were children and teenagers when their moms died. I’ve done one for women who were just in their twenties, a couple for women who were adults when their moms died. The needs of those groups are very different. When COVID came, I started moving into more online offerings. Yes, I do offer some online courses. I also do individual and group coaching.

How do I fit it in? My kids are older now. It would’ve been almost impossible to do it when they were younger at this level because not having had a mom after the age of seventeen, I was really committed to being a mom who was present and gave my kids as much of me as possible. They’re now twenty-three and almost nineteen. My youngest one just started college in September. I’m able to dive more fully into these kinds of offerings. It just happened to coincide with COVID and this incredible need for grief awareness and grief education and grief advocacy. It is a little bit of being at the right place at the right time. Maybe I should say the right place at the wrong time because nobody would’ve wanted to think of COVID as the right time, of course. There’s an expanded need for this work. I’m just trying to fill those gaps.

Zibby: Excellent. Do you have any advice — I’m going to ask two questions — any advice to aspiring authors, particularly of your type of work that involves a lot of research and more analytical thinking mixed with memoir, and also to those who have a relationship with grief that they continue to wrestle with?

Hope: In terms of writing, I write straight memoir too, short pieces and long form as well. This book is a hybrid. This book integrates my own story with research. I became, in a way, someone who tried to decode my own experience and understand it. It combines research, interview, and personal writing. I find it difficult to maintain a really solid writing schedule, and so I binge-write. I’ll go away for four or five days. I’ll take everything else off my calendar. That’s how I’ve written most of my books. I’ve just had to binge-write them. Same thing for this book. The majority of this book was written between February and June of this year because COVID took everything else off my schedule. I just sat down at my dining room table day after day after day and worked on the book. I can multitask like a ninja, but I can’t always focus on writing to the extent that I need to if I’ve got three or four other things going on. I tell people, whatever works for you. If you read that Stephen King gets up every morning at five AM and writes for four hours and you feel somehow less than because you can’t do that, don’t worry. My circadian rhythm is to write late at night. I do my best writing between five and ten PM. I can do all my administrative tasks during the day and then write between five and ten or, like I said, I just go away and binge-write. Again, it’s a matter of finding what works for you.

When my kids were young, I couldn’t always go away for four or five days. Occasionally, I was able to negotiate with my husband at the time that he could take the kids from — he’d pick them up from school on Friday. I would drop them at school Friday morning. I’d take off. There was a hotel in Ventura, California, an hour and fifteen minutes away, which was just far enough away that I could get home easily in case of emergency, but they would not be dropping by for dinner if the kids were crying that they missed me. It was the perfect distance. They knew me there. She’s back. The writer’s back. I went one weekend every six weeks, maybe, from a Friday morning until a Sunday at three o’clock. I got a late check-out. I would bring food into the room and eat all my meals there and just sit at the desk and write. That’s how I wrote Motherless Daughters. That came out in 2006. My kids were five and nine when that book came out, so they were probably four and eight when I was doing those weekends there. That’s what worked for me. Now I have more time to write, but other, more responsibilities. Your other question was about people who were having trouble with their grief. Was that it?

Zibby: Yeah, or just still trying to get a handle on it.

Hope: There’s no right or wrong way to grieve. There’s only your way to grieve. If someone says, I’m having trouble with grief, I first ask them, what are your expectations of what grief should look like and what it should be? Let’s deconstruct those at first and see if you’re holding yourself to a standard that maybe isn’t one that you can meet for various reasons. A lot of people, especially men, think they haven’t grieved because they haven’t had these outward displays of emotion that we normally associate with grief. Some women, too, have said to me, I don’t feel like I cried enough. I don’t think I grieved my person. Someone says to me, I never grieved the death of my mom or dad when I was young. I said, what do you mean by you never grieved it? They say, I didn’t cry enough. We want to look at that. I say, I firmly believe that we grieve to the best of our ability at any point in time. Maybe at that point in time your ability was very limited because you didn’t feel safe or, if you were a child, you didn’t have adults around you to help support you in your grief. Maybe you had other survival needs that were more pressing at that moment and you couldn’t focus on your own emotions because you were taking care of other people or you had a demanding job that had to support your family. Men often say to me that they feel they didn’t grieve because they didn’t cry.

In fact, there’s so much more research now about the difference between how men and women grieve. I see this among spouses. I see it among partners and siblings. They don’t really understand each other because men don’t typically have these — or the masculine way of grieving, I should say. About fifteen to twenty percent of women grieve in a more masculine style. Fifteen to twenty percent of men grieve in a more feminine style. The feminine style is reaching out and talking, emoting, showing your emotions. The male grief patterns are more about working through your feelings by doing, which is why some cultures have the women sit in a room with other women and cry for days in a row and have the men plan the funeral. Working through the details, for the men, is a way that they are processing their emotions around grief. Men tend to want to fix things or solve problems and work through their grief that way. Women don’t always recognize that that’s what the men are doing. Men often don’t understand why the women can’t pull things together and be more instrumental and need to talk about it all the time. It’s just different patterns of grieving, but they’re both working through their feelings of loss.

Zibby: Wow. Hope, thank you so much for chatting today. I’m going to share your episode far and wide for those many people out there who need it. Thank you for all the research and the personal stories and everything that went into The AfterGrief and for creating this concept so that people who are continuing to be sad for the rest of their lives know that there’s a reason why and they’re not doing anything wrong.

Hope: I just want to also emphasize this doesn’t mean you’re going to be grieving for the rest of your life. It just means you’re going to be remembering and thinking about it occasionally, missing that person because they were really important to you. They will continue to be important to you.

Zibby: Amazing. Thank you so much. Thanks for your time.

Hope: Thank you so much, Zibby.

Zibby: Buh-bye.